It is “too late” to make a “material difference” to a potential wave of Omicron cases, an expert has warned.
However Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), also said vaccinations would still be a “very, very good” defence against the new variant.
During BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the professor was asked about the new travel rules where holidaymakers have been asked to take a pre-departure test before arriving in the UK.
The Government adviser said: “I think that may be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
“If Omicron is here in the UK, and it certainly is, if there’s community transmission in the UK, and it certainly looks that way, then it’s that community transmission that will drive a next wave.
“The cases that are being imported are important, we want to detect those and isolate any positive cases we find, as we would for any case anywhere.
“But I think it’s too late to make a material difference to the course of the Omicron wave if we’re going to have one.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the professor pointed out even if vaccines were slightly less effective against the new variant - they would still be able to offer good protection.
He said: “Vaccinologists and immunologists think that this variant won’t evade the vaccines entirely.
“It’s important to remember that against the Delta variant, which is a different variant, the booster vaccinations have turned out to be very effective, well into the 90% protection against infection but also against disease and putting people in hospital.
“So even if the vaccines were slightly less effective against Omicron they would still be very very good.”
Elsewhere in the show, Dominic Raab said everyone could look forward to a good Christmas after last year’s tough restrictions during the festive time.